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I am finally putting my tried and true family recipes here. Check out my old-time favorites as well as newly discovered ones.

I hope you'll find some recipes here that you enjoy cooking, and those you cook for will find them tasty and satisfying.
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One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Panzanella-- Bread Salad, top with grilled fish

Over the years, I've seen recipes for Panzanella, but I couldn't quite figure out the flavor and whether it would really work.  Then we had some in a restaurant topped with grilled wild salmon.  (Find out about sustainable seafood here. )  Delicious!  So I went on a hunt for a similar recipe.  It is especially good in warm weather, either alone or topped with some protein.  Start this one several hours before your meal so the ingredients can soak in the dressing.  To get even more veggies, layer this on a bed of salad greens of your choice.  Add in your favorite salad goodies or omit something if you don't have it.

4 cups sourdough bread, lightly toasted
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped# 

2 medium-sized tomatoes, seeded and chopped#
1 small sweet pepper (any color), seeded, deribbed and chopped
1 medium-sized red onion, finely sliced

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives (or your favorite olives), chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges for garnish, optional**

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons capers

Optional: piece of grilled fish

Make the dressing by beating together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Mash the drained capers; add to the oil/vinegar mixture.

Put dressing in a large bowl, then add the cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, onion, olives, parsley, and basil. Toss gently, cover, and refrigerate for several hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, add bread cubes and toss again.

Garnish with hard-cooked egg wedges, if using. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

*Preheat oven to 350 or dry in a skillet on the stove if you don't want to heat up the kitchen.  Trim bread of tough bottom and end crusts.  Cut loaf into ½-3/4” cubes.  Spread on ungreased baking sheet and toast for 8-12 minutes, moving them around with a spatula so they dry evenly.  (This step can also be done with 3-4 tablespoons of melted butter or olive oil tossed with the bread cubes.  It should not toast, just dry out and get crunchy.  Remove from oven and cool.  Store in an airtight container if made before hand.

**If using other protein such as grilled meat or fish, skip the eggs. 

Note: # In this recipe, it is important to seed the cucumbers and tomatoes before adding to the dressing, as you want this salad to be as dry as possible. The dressing -- rather than any liquid from the vegetables -- should provide the moisture. ** with adaptations from KAF book, and other recipes.

Seafood watch: Seafood Watch consumer-guides